Play by David Hare. Oscar Wilde's dangerous philosophy leads him on a path to destruction. The Judas Kiss describes two pivotal moments on that path: the day Wilde decides to stay in England and face imprisonment, and the night, after his release two years later, when the lover for whom he risked everything betrays him. With a quiet but burning sense of outrage, David Hare presents the consequences of taking an uncompromisingly moral position in a world defined by fear, expedience and conformity.
Original London West End Production 1998 with Liam Neeson
Previewed 12 March 1998, Opened 19 March 1998, Closed 18 April 1998 at the Playhouse Theatre
The cast featured Liam Neeson as 'Oscar Wilde' and Tom Hollander as 'Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie)' with Peter Capaldi as 'Robbie Ross', Stina Nielsen as 'Phoebe Cane', Daniel Serafini-Sauli as 'Galileo Masconi', Richard Clarke as 'Sandy Moffatt' and Alex Walkinshaw as 'Arthur Wellesley.
Directed by Richard Eyre with designs by Bob Crowley, lighting by Mark Henderson, music by George Fenton and sound by John A. Leonard.
Presented by the Almeida Theatre.
"Liam Neeson is powerfully built and ruggedly handsome and David Hare gave him no epigrams and few witticisms. Instead, we had a memorably affecting portrayal of a man struggling to come to terms with his many losses. His desperate clutching at the hand of a friend hints at his loneliness while his young aristocratic lover samples the local fishermen. Intensely touching is his lament for his children: 'Even though I left to travel down the darkest East End street to smear my mouth against men whose names I never knew, men whom I never saw, pressed against walls in the dark, in the rough dark - yet every night I came home and told my children stories of ghosts, of fairies, of monsters and of enchanted lands.' Neeson's performance is compelling from first to last." The Independent
"It is a cruel thing to say of a play about one of the most effortlessly entertaining men who ever lived, but despite the presence of Richard Eyre as the director, and Liam Neeson as Wilde, the evening is often numbingly dull, with both emotion and jokes in alarmingly short supply. Neeson is a superb screen actor... he seems hoarsely underpowered in the theatre, however, and strangely, almost defensively, heterosexual in the role of Wilde. He often delivers the dialogue as if reading the half-time football results and there is little evidence of Wilde's charm and courageous humour... Part of the play's problem is that Wilde's story has become almost too familiar... There are occasional tantalising glimpses of the play we might have had in Eyre's sluggish production... For a play about love, The Judas Kiss seems remarkably lacking in both tenderness and generosity of spirit." The Daily Telegraph
"Liam Neeson is vast, sweaty and imposing but never for a moment do you believe he's Oscar Wilde... David Hare's play, based on an old film script and directed by Richard Eyre, is for Wilde buffs only... Oscar himself comes over as a crotchety bore, his fabled kindness of heart and jokes in short supply. Hare depicts him willing on death, his best days over. Betrayed, washed up and broke he may be, but frankly it's hard to care. Liam Neeson is a true star, it's a shame he's picked a dud in this worthy but plodding bio-drama." The Daily Express
The Judas Kiss in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 12 March 1998, opened on 19 March 1998, and closed on 18 April 1998
1st London West End Revival 2013 with Rupert Everett
Previewed 6 September 2012, Opened 12 September 2012, Closed 13 October 2012 at the Hampstead Theatre
Previewed 9 January 2013, Opened 17 January 2013, Closed 6 April 2013 at the Duke of York's Theatre
The cast at London's Hampstead Theatre and the West End's Duke of York's Theatre featured Rupert Everett as 'Oscar Wilde' and Freddie Fox as 'Lord Alfred Douglas' ('Bosie'), with Cal MacAninch as 'Robbie Ross', Kirsty Oswald as 'Phoebe Cane', Tom Colley as 'Galileo Masconi', Alister Cameron as 'Sandy Moffatt', and Ben Hardy as 'Arthur Wellesley'.
Directed by Neil Armfield, with sets by Dale Ferguson, costumes by Sue Blane, lighting by Rick Fisher, music by Alan John and sound by Paul Groothuis.
Rupert Everett's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Professor Henry Higgins' in Philip Prowse's revival of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre in 2011; 'Nicky Lancaster' in Philip Prowse's revival of Noel Coward's The Vortex at the Garrick Theatre in 1989; and 'Guy Bennett' in Stuart Burge's production of Julian Mitchell's Another Country at the Greenwich Theatre in 1981, and transfer to the West End's Queen's Theatre in 1982.
"It doesn't manage to demythologise Wilde; but if this revival starring Rupert Everett is far from essential, it does unleash the play’s prickly humour... Everett's performance is uninflected at first (has his face been refrigerated?), but he fares better as the physically broken, more ruminative Wilde of the second act. A near-overwhelming set — swathes of silk that actors keep tripping on — sucks some of the energy out of Neil Armfield's production." The Sundy Times
"In Neil Armfield's revival, Freddie Fox can do little to make Bosie appealing; while Cal Macaninch's tight-lipped Robbie Ross mostly doles out advice and small change to the servants. Centre of attention is Rupert Everett’s Wilde. Jowly and thickening around the middle, he's eminently pitiable, although he never scales the tragic heights and is most comfortable when firing barbs about Bosie’s Italian lover, Galileo. If Wilde's case is handsomely made by Hare, other characters' claims on our sympathy are neglected." The London Metro
"Portraying Oscar Wilde's downfall may well prove to be Rupert Everett's triumph. He delivers a superb performance in this revival of David Hare's play... At first, Everett's Wilde is confident and defiant. But when he's released from prison and flees to Naples with the odious Bosie, he is broken. Everett adopts a fat suit and is unrecognisable. Freddie Fox is superb as Bosie, the lover who leads Wilde to his downfall. But all the performances are flawless and the script crackles with a fiery wit too." The Sunday Mirror
The Judas Kiss in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 9 January 2013, opened on 17 January 2013, and closed on 6 April 2013.